After following up on a series of complaints, CCMC member KISA has encountered an outbreak of police brutality against detainees in almost all cities of Cyprus. In particular, the complaints that have reached KISA refer to police violence against detainees occurring in the detention centres of Larnaca, Nicosia, and Paphos. Through its communication with the families and the detainees who had been victims of this brutal police violence, KISA says it appears that the incidents of attacks tended to be in retaliation to the detainees’ protests against the living conditions in detention, and the state’s attempts to deport them.
KISA believes that none of the detainees’ protests, or actions, were in any way aiming to harm other individuals, nor did they require such disproportionate and violent punishment. The abuse against detainees was not confined to physical abuse. Members of the police had also allegedly also verbally abused detainees through the use of insulting and degrading language targeting particular individuals and their countries of origin, while at the same time humiliating their religious symbols and beliefs. In addition, when the physical and verbal abuse would cease, members of the police would start using numerous restrictive and punitive measures that aimed to bring down the morale of the detainees. For instance, the police confiscated the detainees’ personal phones thus preventing them from communicating with anyone outside detention, refused to allow their families to visit them, increased the daily hours of cell-confinement, and in some cases detainees were moved to other cities so as to make it even more difficult for them to have contact with their families and the outside world. KISA also reports that detainees who could not be deported, such as people from Iran, Syria and the Kurdish regions, encountered severe coercion in order to agree to “voluntary repatriation”. KISA considers tragic the fact that not only has the Republic of Cyprus not yet taken a firm and clear decision to denounce the brutality of the Syrian regime against its people, but it also continues even today to return people to Syria. KISA condemns all the incidents that have taken place in the detention centres around Cyprus, and urges the authorities to take the appropriate steps in order to ensure that the rights of all detainees are fully respected.